Another Conspiracy Course From English Professor John Boly
He’s back at it this spring, according to the English Department’s list of courses.
ENGLISH 173: STUDIES IN GENRE:When we blogged about a different (but equally conspiracy-oriented) course of Boly’s this summer, we were not in a particularly mellow mood, and denounced his conspiracy theorizing as indicative of “the corruption of academia generally, and especially the humanities, by attitudes that are fundamentally hostile to sound history and sound social science.”
PROFESSOR JOHN BOLY
• 1001 TUTH 9:35-10:50
DYSTOPIAN FICTION: UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA/HETEROPTOPIA
Is America run by a hidden and arrogant financial elite? Are politicians their sock-puppets? Could illegal and immoral petro-wars be started on false pretexts so a corrupt few can get rich and herd everyone else into a police state? Is corporate owned news a megaphone for CIA propaganda? Are vaccines and other pharmaceutical drugs delivery systems for diseases like cancer and AIDS? Are water supplies deliberately poisoned by eugenicists intent on reducing the population to morons? If questions like these interest you, then try this course. We will study the connections among three closely related genres: utopia (the desirable place), dystopia (the abject hellhole), and heterotopia (the denied or repressed place). The syllabus will include a broad range of works, from Frank Baum’s beloved children’s tale, The Wizard of Oz, to George Orwell’s vision of a global concentration camp, 1984; from Aldous Huxley’s eugenic paradise, Brave New World, to Margaret Atwood’s nightmare society dictated by women-hating fundamentalists, The Handmaid’s Tale; from Kurt Vonnegut’s slapstick black comedies to Kazuo Ishiguro’s elegant psychological thriller, Never Let Me Go. In addition to these fictional works, we will also look at some of the non-fictional narratives that inspired our novelists. These heterotopias, the repressed histories often dismissed as “conspiracy theories,” will give us an opportunity to consider the writings of historians and investigative reporters such as Ida Tarbell, Anthony C. Sutton, Robert Stinnett, and Gary Allen. But the big surprise is that these heterotopians are joined by some unexpected conspiracy theorists: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. If recent events leave you questioning the official picture of the world, then utopia, dystopia, and heterotopia are the genres for you.
Looking at this course description, we are inclined to be a bit more mellow, thinking “he’s just an English professor, so getting the empirical truth right is less important than a compelling aesthetic vision” and “he can’t really believe all this stuff, can he?”
In fact, the course looks to us like a real hoot. Indeed, if some student signs up for both Boly’s course and our own course on the Kennedy assassination, they are guaranteed a wild, and we think, very interesting semester.